The service has shown an interest in a range of training solutions from individual to battalion levels and plans to award multiple contracts ahead of new programmes set to run from FY2024 to FY2031.
US Army releases draft RFP for new carbine
On 31 January 2011, the US Army released the draft request for proposals (RFP) for its new Individual Carbine (IC) programme [draft solicitation is available on Fedbizopps.gov under W15QKN-11-R-F003]. The IC competition is part of the army’s 'dual path' service rifle strategy, which consists of conducting a carbine competition while pursuing its Product Improvement Program of the combat-proven M4.
In a media roundtable briefing on 2 February 2011, Col Doug Tamilio, Project Manager for Soldier Weapons, stressed the 'draft' nature of the released document.
'That’s a very important part of this RFP process for the IC,' he said. 'And the reason we did that is because we want to make sure that we get this right and want to solicit feedback from industry. We were originally going to give them 30 days but we changed it to 40 days to give them a little bit more time…So March 10th is the cutoff for comments. However, We are going to have an Industry Day on the 30th of March down in Crystal City. We will entertain comments up to that point and we will also take questions there too. The idea is that we want to make sure that we’re not asking for something that industry can’t deliver. And if industry can delivery something better than what we are asking for, please tell us.'
'After Industry Day, the next process will be approximately 45 days later, when the final RFP will come out,' he added. 'Then we are going to give industry 90 days to submit their whole package plus their bid samples [10 weapons each] for testing.'
The submitted weapons will undergo extensive and exhaustive testing against the new requirements established by the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning.
Tamilio continued, 'We’re going to do a three phase down-select process for this. We came up with that plan about two years ago and it really hasn’t changed, although the components inside each of those [phases] have moved a little bit as we have briefed the leadership.'
In the first phase of the IC competition, weapon submissions will be rated on their physical attributes and features as well as their compatibility with existing army accessories and modular weapon attachments. Other areas of consideration include: accuracy, reliability, durability, and other characteristics specified in the draft solicitation.
'This is a formal source selection board with formal source selection authority,' he said. 'That board will look at all that data. They will determine who is in the responsible range. And that group of people will move into Phase II.'
Phase II test firing will include firing 700,000 rounds.
'At the end of Phase II we are going to do something a little different,' Tamilio noted. 'Our target is that the top three will move into Phase III. So we are going to issue three IDIQ contracts to those who enter into Phase III. And we are doing that to speed up the procurement time at the end of this cycle. So at the end, when we choose a winner, we will be able to exercise an option on that contract to start the production.'
He emphasised that heavy soldier involvement would be a cornerstone of the Phase III effort.
By Scott R. Gourley, California
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